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Views on Gay Adoption

Gay adoption refers to the adoption of children by homosexuals or same-sex couples.

Although Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoption, the issue has become increasingly contentious throughout the U.S. as more same-sex couples are raising children than ever before.

Below, NOW looks at the opinions of the American people, child welfare groups, medical professionals and the religious community.

  • The American People
  • Child Welfare Groups
  • Medical Professionals
  • The Religious Community

    The American People

    A study by Pew Research released at the end of March 2006 found that public approval of gay adoption is on the rise. In 1999, most Americans (57%) opposed allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children, while just 38% were in favor. Today, the percent of people who favor allowing gay adoption has grown to 46% while 48% are opposed. View the report here.

    A notable American, Rosie O'Donnell, who is a lesbian, and featured in a new documentary about the first-ever cruise for gay families, is an outspoken critic of Florida's laws.

    "The worst was not being allowed to adopt the foster child that we raised in Florida. We were told by our lawyer that we would have to perjure ourselves. We would have to lie and sign a form in the state of Florida, a form that says you are not now and have never been a homosexual in order to adopt a child, even a foster child you raised. We were told that we were not allowed to adopt this child without -- becoming a felon," the comedian, told CNN on April 5, 2006.

    Child Welfare Groups

    The Child Welfare League of America's (CWLA) official position is that gay, lesbian, and bisexual parents are as well suited to raise children as their heterosexual counterparts.

    "The CWLA supports the case by case placements of children in qualified adoptive homes and those homes can include gay men and lesbians," Rob Woronoff, a Director at the Child Welfare League of America, told NOW on April 3, 2006

    The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a national adoption organization, strongly supports the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt, and urges that remaining obstacles be removed.

    "The bottom line for those of us who advocate for children is clear," said Adam Pertman, the Executive Director of the Adoption Institute in a March 23, 2006 statement. "There's simply no credible research to indicate that children are harmed in any way when they're adopted by gay and lesbian parents, but there's lots of evidence to indicate that they do well in those homes."

    Medical Professionals

    Dr. Ellen Perrin, Professor of Pediatrics at Tufts-New England Medical Center, told NOW on April 4, 2006 that there is no evidence that having gay or lesbian parents is harmful to children in any way. "There is very little research that has been done specifically on children who have been adopted by gay or lesbian parents but there is no reason to expect that they would have any special problems as a result of their parents being gay," Perrin said.

    Dr. Cathryn Galanter, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Columbia University, told NOW there is a growing body of research illustrating that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal relationships with their peers and adults, do not show differences in gender identity and are not more likely to be homosexuals than children of heterosexual parents.

    "Children of gay, lesbian and bisexual and transgender parents are similar to children with heterosexual parents with respect to their emotional and personal development. It's the quality of the parent-child relationship and not the parents' sexual orientation that is associated with the development of a child or adolescent," said Galanter, a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said on April 4, 2006.

    The American Psychological Association states in their official policy that "research has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish."

    The Religious Community

    The Boston Archdiocese's Catholic Charities announced in March 2006 that it would stop providing adoption services. The social services arm of the Roman Catholic archdiocese, which had provided adoption services for the state for about two decades, said the allowing same-sex couples to adopt runs counter to church teachings on homosexuality.

    "The world was very different when Charities began this ministry at the threshold of the 20th century," the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities, said in a joint statement with trustees chairman Jeffrey Kaneb. "The world changed often and we adapted the ministry to meet changing times and needs. At all times we sought to place the welfare of children at the heart of our work."

    The Vatican has said that gay adoptions are "gravely immoral" and "would actually mean doing violence to those children."

    Former San Francisco Archbishop William Levada, who is now second-in-command at the Vatican, said in a March 22, 2006 article in The Boston Globe he had been aware of a handful of gay adoptions during his tenure in California and at the time saw them as "prudential judgments." But he issued a statement saying they should not continue.

    The Catholic League's president, William Donahue, told NOW that gay adoption is unwise and unnatural. "Same sex couples, as well as single persons, lack the requisites provided by nature that would allow them to be a father and a mother, thus rendering them a poor substitute and inadequate role model for parenting," Donahue said on April 4, 2006.

    In recent years, adoption agencies with Jewish or Lutheran ties have welcomed gay and lesbian applicants, the Chicago Tribune reported on March 20, 2006.

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